Sandy’s (not so) subtle effects on food supply


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As if widespread droughts in the Midwest weren’t already doing enough to hurt the food supply, along comes good ‘ole Hurricane Sandy to seal the deal.

Unlike the droughts, Sandy’s impact on food supply was more indirect, as the costs are mostly related to the inability to ship food to the East Coast. And with roads blocked and gas stations closed, delivering food to affected areas could be problematic for some time. However, certain Thanksgiving staples, including cranberries, could be in short supply as these mostly come from Massachusetts and New Jersey, both of which were hit by the storm.

Hurricane Sandy’s greatest impact was probably on the seafood industry, with the storm affecting everything from fishermen to restaurants. Key fishing areas along New Jersey’s coast and the South Shore of Long Island were hit hard, and many of those residents saw their homes and businesses destroyed by the storm.

Fortunately, because precautions were taken, the seafood supply should improve quickly. However oysters and similar shellfish that require years to grow may take up to a year or more to return to pre-storm levels.

As with produce, the greatest issue is likely with getting the seafood to the restaurants and supermarkets and meeting their demands. Ahead of the storm, many businesses held off seafood orders, and power outages made keeping things fresh impossible. Now that they're starting to run again, they're left without a steady supply of fish.

Outside of the United States, Haiti’s food supply in particular was hurt by Hurricane Sandy. Residents were already protesting higher food prices before the storm hit, and now widespread crop loss could drive them up even more.